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Federal Funds and Sanctuary Cities

Thursday February 9th, 2017   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:14am PST   •  

49949787 - american immigration and united states refugee crisis concept as people on a border wall with a us flag as a social issue about refugees or illegal immigrants with the cast shadow of a group of migrating women men and children. On January 25, 2017, President Trump followed up on his campaign promises to fight illegal immigration and issued an executive order that threatens to stop federal funds from being spent in the 300 U.S. jurisdictions that have established official policies that bar their local law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement orders.

If limited to just the 106 so-called sanctuary cities, federal spending watchdog group American Transparency finds that the executive order could affect as much as $27 billion worth of federal funds from which they benefit. If you live in one of these jurisdictions or would like to find out more, American Transparency has published an interactive map to show you which funds would be specifically affected in each of the nation’s self-declared sanctuary cities. The following screen shot shows what we found when we focused on Oakland, California:


Adding the total awards together, we see that the sanctuary city of Oakland, California, would see federal funding and federal spending within the city reduced by up to $404 million in 2017. The actual value will be less than that, however, because that is the total amount allocated for all of Fiscal Year 2017, which we’re already one-third of the way through. If that money were being spent in equal monthly installments, the remaining amount for FY 2017 would be over $269 million.

When you consider that the City of Oakland has adopted an annual budget of $1.2 billion for Fiscal Year 2016-17, you can see that the city may be hard pressed to come up with funds to replace the federal dollars spent within the city limits. That’s why the executive order may have teeth in some municipalities, but not necessarily in others.

Writing at Forbes, American Transparency’s Adam Andrezjewski summarizes some of his organization’s findings on the amount of potentially affected spending per community:

  • $26.741 billion in annual federal grants and direct payments flowed into America’s 106 sanctuary cities (FY2016).
  • On average, the cost of lost federal funding for a family of four residing in one of the 106 sanctuary cities is $1,810 – or $454 per person. A total population of 46.2 million residents live in the 106 sanctuary cities according to census data.
  • Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Illinois governments received the highest amount of federal funding per resident and, therefore, have the most to lose by maintaining their sanctuary status. Washington, D.C. municipal government received the highest amount of federal funding on a per capita basis: $3,228 per person; $12,912 per family of four; or $2.09 billion total. The City of Chicago, IL received the second highest amount of federal funding on a per capita basis: $1,942 per person; $7,768 per family of four; or $5.3 billion total.
  • In cities with populations of 100,000 and above, the communities with the least per capita federal dollars ‘at risk’ are St. Paul, Minnesota ($47 per person, $14.2 million total); Downey, California ($36 per person, $4.2 million total) and Miami, Florida ($67 per person, $29.7 million total).
  • $15.983 billion in federal funds flowed into just twelve major American cities where 1 in 5 illegal entrants reside (FY2016).
  • In Los Angeles, fully 1 in 5 city residents (22-percent) are illegal entrants. However, the amount of federal funding amounts to only $126 per resident; $504 per family of four; or $502.5 million total.

Cities with the largest populations of illegal immigrants have some of the lowest levels of federal spending per capita. Therefore, President Trump’s executive order will likely prove less than effective in obtaining his desired outcomes. To date, only Miami-Dade County, Florida, has terminated its sanctuary city policies, whereas several other jurisdictions have newly declared themselves to be sanctuary cities in defiance of President Trump’s executive order.

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February 2017